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I recently saw a domestic tour operator using aircraft with foreign registry. The pilots had U.S. CPLs. Can foreign-registered aircraft operate commercially within the U.S.A, in an operation where flights begin and end within the U.S.A.?

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Yes, it's allowed under both part 135 (on-demand) and part 121 (airlines); 121.153 and 135.25 both have the same wording:

A certificate holder may operate in common carriage, and for the carriage of mail, a civil aircraft which is leased or chartered to it without crew and is registered in a country which is a party to the Convention on International Civil Aviation if— [...]

And US pilots may fly foreign aircraft within the US.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about under Part 91? $\endgroup$
    – Mike
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Mike The only way to fly charters under part 91 is if the customer provides the aircraft and hires the pilot to fly it. If the pilot or operator provides the aircraft - I assume that's the deal with the tour company you saw - then it's a 121/135 operation. See this question $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 14:32

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